Cholera outbreak hits Bongo Island, Maguindanao
MANILA, Philippines -- Health officials declared a cholera outbreak in Bongo Island, Maguindanao on Saturday evening, April 6.
Two residents, an elderly woman and a 3-year-old child, have died and at least 64 residents continue to be infected.
Contamination of the main source of water in Bongo Island -- an open well -- caused the epidemic, DOH-ARMM Secretary Kadil Sinolinding said.
The first case was reported on Monday, April 1. The government started evacuating most of the affected residents to the Cotabato Regional Medical Center on Wednesday, April 3.
"In the island, water is really a problem, especially during summer time," Sinolinding said. " Every year, there are cases. This became alarming because of the number of patients."
It took about almost a week to determine the epidemic that struck Bongo Island. Initial reports indicated an outbreak of diarrhea, one of the symptoms of cholera.
Sinolinding said surveillance and monitoring efforts were conducted Thursday morning, after the infected residents were transported to the hospital. On Saturday evening, results of the culture from the open well showed the presence of the bacterium Vibrio cholerae, confirming the cholera outbreak.
Outbreak almost contained
But Sinolinding said the number of residents coming to the hospital has decreased over the past few days.
Aside from the 64 persons still admitted in the hospital, 2 have been discharged over the past few days. Sinolinding said at least 6 people are also expected to be discharged Monday, April 8.
"We are hoping that there will be no additional patients. We are hoping that the incident has indeed been contained," he said.
'Address water source'
The health department in the Autonomous in Region in Muslim Mindanao urged the local government of Parang, Maguindanao to address the water situation in Bongo Island to prevent similar cases from happening in the future.
"We should focus on environmental sanitation. The local government must pass an ordinance on proper human waste disposal, which became the main cause of contamination in the water supply," Sinolinding said.
"A mob of health workers" are monitoring the situation in the island, including the status of the water supply and whether there will be additional reported cases.
They are also conducting information-dissemination efforts to educate residents, especially the children, on how to handle their food and water properly.
As the election draws near, Sinolinding said there have been politicians who have been using the incident to hurl attacks against each other. He did not name who they were.
"It is the best time for us to unite, to have a common stand," he said. - Rappler.com